I’ll Have the “Ted Bundy,” Extra Crispy Please

If I ever get any closer to becoming a restaurateur than knowing how to spell it, there is an eatery I’d like to open. Imagine that it’s late at night and you’re driving around, absolutely starving. Up ahead, you spot a neon sign:

“it’s time!”

You’d want to eat there, right? Of course you would. You’re hungry enough to eat roadkill. You pull over, walk in, and take a seat at the counter. Opening the laminated menu, you see it’s full of the names of executed criminals and what they had to eat in their final hours.

You might find this gimmick amusing. You might be offended. Who can say? One thing I do know is that after you leave, you will tell your friends about the place. Even if you’re uptight and humorless, others will not be.

Some ideas just market themselves.

This still leaves the task of finding out what society’s dregs were noshing shortly before their demise. Thanks to the internet and people whose sense of propriety is on a par with my own, such information is readily available. Texas, a state that serves up so many last meals it should open a fast-food franchise, provides an exhaustive list on a government website. If official sources are lacking, aficionados of this sort of trivia pick up the slack.

Portions will have to be downsized. My research has shown that those condemned who haven’t lost their appetites completely from pre-execution jitters tend to go all out. Meals consisting of two large pizzas, a cheeseburger, fries, and a six-pack of Coke are not unheard of. Perhaps there is solace in gluttony.

Equally likely is the theory is that they want to exact revenge by creating as big a mess as possible when they expire and their bowels let go. It doesn’t really matter what they eat. From a necrogastronomic perspective, it’s all vindaloo and prune juice.

I’ve come up with a couple of items as they would appear on the menu. Bon appetit.

“John Wayne Gacy”

With victims as young as 14, it’s no wonder the erstwhile Pogo the Clown chose shrimp and chicken. Add a side of strawberries (reminiscent of the man’s personal fruit cellar) and you have John Wayne Gacy on a plate.

“Timothy McVeigh”

Love dessert but hate the federal government? Look no further. Allow your spoon to collapse this tower of mint-chip ice cream. With each mouthful, you’ll feel an explosion of flavor as fresh as it was in the truck that delivered it.

Special thanks to the folks at rotten.com for their fine reference material.

A Touch of Sinterklaas

I used to enjoy a holiday tradition that has since fallen by the wayside. I was married to a Dutch woman for a number of years. Every December 5th, we would celebrate the coming of Sinterklaas, the Dutch Santa Claus.

This Saint Nick has nothing to do with Christmas. It is believed the historical figure lived in what is now Turkey but he operates out of Spain in his present incarnation. There is no indication of his ever even visiting the North Pole, let alone living there.

A good thing too, since he lacks the American Santa’s girthy insulation layer. He has the beard but is a comparatively gaunt old coot, resembling Gandalf the Grey in a bishop’s hat.

There are no elves either. Since slave labor was more abundant than creatures who exist only in folklore, the good saint chose Zwarte Piet (“Black Pete”) to be his servant. Well, this may or not have been an actual case of slavery but I’m pretty sure the position is non-union.

Piet does the shit work, lugging around gifts and distributing them to all the good little children. His duties also include stuffing naughty brats into a sack and taking them back to Spain, where the little scamps are forced to endure the company of working-class English on holiday.

The tradition has undergone some changes. The child-abduction element is now downplayed and due to an increase in workload, the singular Piet has become a team of Pieten.

Some of those pondering the political incorrectness of Zwarte Piet (which doesn’t require much pondering) have come with a multicultural alternative. Those portraying Piet have their faces made up in a variety of colors, rather than a uniform minstrel-show look. Thanks to such progressive efforts, people from all ethnic backgrounds can feel subservient to whitey.

My first exposure to this holiday came in 1993 during a six-month stretch in Europe. I was sitting in the Cafe de Wetering in Amsterdam, drinking beer and scribbling self-absorbed gibberish in my notebook. In walked Sinterklaas and and his Pieten posse, followed by a bunch of kids. The Dutch, unlike Americans, do not freak out over the presence of minors in a drinking establishment.

The children were served Coca Cola or orange juice and instructed by Sinterklaas to sing for their treats. While Big S basked in the musical glory, his subordinates took up ambush positions and pelted bar patrons with pepernoten (small, hard spice cookies). This suited me just fine as I already had plenty to drink but no dinner as yet. I ate more than my share of the things, many of them off the floor.

One nice part of the holiday is that a short poem is supposed to accompany each gift. The giver pens it under either Sint’s or Piet’s name and the recipient reads it aloud before opening the present. Meter and rhyme are simple. The tone is light-hearted and often playfully insulting. It isn’t great literature but appreciate a gifting process that involves more mental energy than walking into a store, pointing, and grunting at a sales clerk.

Laura and I brought the tradition stateside, inviting our friends Jody and Lisa to join in on the fun. There was more sex and flatulence in the poems than the convention but I think we kept true to the spirit of Sinterklaas by adapting it to our dysfunctional sensibilities.

After the divorce, my active participation in Dutch holidays became a thing of the past. I am now simply an American, content to have a fat Santa with no poetic inclinations.

Lump of Coal

Last year, I wanted to try something new for the holidays. I threw a Hanukkah party. Betty clued me in on some of the cultural details and I improvised the rest. Overall, the event was successful but I have no desire to repeat it. I wish to spend this December pleasantly inebriated and not having to organize anything.

If someone else decided to throw a Festival of Lights blowout, I’d be happy to attend. There seems to be little chance of that happening as Hanukkah kicks off tonight at sundown and I have heard nary a peep from any of my friends.

So Christmas it is, if only by default.

Don’t worry. I won’t be spending December 25th sitting in front of a TV dinner with a tear running down my cheek. My friends Alex and Gillian have graciously invited me to their home.

They’re not religious in the least but do prefer some level of respect for Yuletide traditions. I will make a concerted effort to comport myself accordingly. This means refraining from raunchy parodies of Christmas carols or jokes about the Wise Men fondling the baby Jesus until all in attendance are roaring drunk.

That ought to take about an hour. Piece of cake.


One Violent Year

By Ralph Brandon

147 pp.

© 1959

Publisher: Fabian Books

Series: Z-129

At the opening of One Violent Year, the narrator Steve tells that he is impotent. According to him, his condition was brought on as a direct result of orally servicing a woman for an eleven-year stretch.

Unfortunately for Steve, that was all he was allowed to do to her. You see, Mary Ellen was a genteel southern belle and he was poor white trash. She considered him a dear friend as long as he knew his place, which happened to be on his knees making slurping noises.

Other youth of his era were able to placate their sexual frustration with the strategic use of National Geographic and some axle grease from the tool shed. Not Steve. He spent his time with his face between the legs of a young lady who sips mint juleps and says “Fiddle-dee-dee” while climaxing. Eventually, his thwarted member threw in the towel.

However, his erectile dysfunction proved not to be a lifetime affliction. It is now four years after Mary Ellen’s untimely death and Steve is ready to get his groove back. While working with a crew painting Bobbi’s road house, he sees Phyllis, the corpulent owner’s hot youngest sister. A long-dormant part of him springs to life.

When it rains, it pours. Before Steve has a chance to get his mitts on Phyllis, middle (in both age and chunk-factor) sister Jeanne makes a play for him. Their brief encounter in the parking lot does not go well. She grabs his head and attempts to shove his face deep in the heart of Dixie. This brings up a lot of painful memories for Steve and he refuses, so she expresses her insistence by putting out her cigarette on the side of his neck. He responds by punching her hard in the stomach and the date’s over.

The debacle with Jeanne proves but a minor detour as his romance with Phyllis gets into full swing. Failure to perform becomes a thing of the past as he plow her furrow with both skill and stamina. It seems as if nothing will get in the way of their living happily after.

The couple runs low on money while vacationing, so Phyllis earns some cash by administering beatings to an older gentleman who is into that sort of thing. Steve is not pleased, admonishes her about the slippery slope of perversion, but is willing to accept her story that she derived no pleasure from her sadistic act.

Convincing himself that her transgression was solely due to financial need, he decides that getting rich in the corn-whiskey business will solve everything. The Chavis clan dominate the local market but their stuff is both vile and overpriced. Better add cheaper hooch could be obtained from Doc Hart, a kindly old physician who has amassed a small fortune both by selling moonshine and then performing abortions on women too drunk to worry about birth control. Steve also falls for the good doctor’s daughter Alice, whose dominant and sadistic streak appeals to a side of him he’d rather not think about.

He figures he can get rich distributing the shine locally. This of course ires the Chavises, who stage an ambush to get even. With them is Jeanne, who has her own score to settle.

When Jeanne was a girl, she and Phyllis used to play with Lonnie, the son of a black laborer working on their father’s tobacco farm. Actually, Phyllis played and Jeanne tortured, subjecting the kid to beatings and electric shock, and demanding oral sex. Lonnie put up with it for a couple of reasons. First, there wasn’t much he could do about it. In the pre-civil rights south, African Americans had little recourse against the whims of crazy white people. He also enjoyed the abuse, up to a point. But after Jeanne mutilated his genitals to keep him from fooling around with anyone else, Lonnie had had enough and fled.

He found sanctuary with Doc Hart. Alice assumed the Jeanne role, albeit with less depravity. Her racism kept actual intercourse with Lonnie out of the question, leaving her virginity intact until the advent of Steve and his Caucasian pecker.

Alice’s newfound love life was short lived however as Jeanne got even for the stealing away of her beloved Lonnie. After Steve was shot and beaten unconscious, Alice was brutally raped by three of the Chavis boys while Jeanne cut her face off with the same knife she’d used on Lonnie’s naughty bits.

Revenge begets revenge. After Doc Hart puts his daughter out of her misery with a shotgun and tends to Steve’s wounds, it’s payback time. Steve dispatches the three rapists and leaves Jeanne for the doctor’s amusement. She dies after three days of slow torture (the first of which consisting entirely of “dentistry”).

Steve is now a broken and shamed man who creates his own private hell by becoming fat Bobbi’s love slave. One night, he is being forced to watch her and Phyllis abuse a couple of homeless guys. This proves too much for him to bear.

Reaching deep to find his inner real man, he smacks Phyllis unconscious, abducts her, and proposes marriage where refusal means death. She accepts and through will power and denial, the two begin a new life as a normal loving couple.

This is the Ralph Brandon book I’ve reviewed, the other being Asylum – or Hell? In both novels, justice prevails when dominant women are brought to heel with man’s brute force. Love him or hate him, the author had issues. That what makes him so much fun to read. When I’m scanning the dusty shelves of Kay Books, you better believe I’ll keep an eye peeled for the name Ralph Brandon.